McLaren “shouldn’t do a classic SUV” says new boss


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In an exclusive interview, ex-Ferrari CTO Michael Leiters hints at plans for a more diverse lineup with a McLaren SUV.

New McLaren Automotive boss Michael Leiters is open to launching an SUV, and the firm is actively investigating what form such a model may take.

Speaking exclusively to Automotive Daily Network partner Autocar in his first interview since joining McLaren on 1 July, Leiters said he’s keen to evolve the British brand’s offering beyond purely mid-engined supercars.

We first revealed plans were underway for a McLaren SUV back in June, before Leiters officially joined the company, detailing that a new model could be on course to hit the market in the second half of this decade.

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It was also tipped to be a fully battery-electric proposition, not a hybrid, and be sold in a number of power guises, with dual or tri-motor, four-wheel-drive designs offering exalted performance levels likely to match the recently launched Aston Martin DBX 707, which is currently billed as the world’s fastest SUV.

And with Leiters’ overseeing the launch of two high-end SUVs during his career – the Porsche Cayene and most recently in his role as technical chief at Ferrari, where he led the development of the upcoming Purosangue – it’s expected that McLaren may soon follow suit.

“I developed an SUV at Ferrari,” Leiters said. “I developed an SUV at Porsche, so I love SUVs. But we won’t do it for me. Yet I think it’s a really important market.

“It still is, and it continues to grow. It’s very attractive as a market segment.”

McLaren’s radical change of heart about crossovers is undoubtedly a result of the sales success of its rival performance brands, whose existing crossover and SUV models already heavily outsell their lower-slung models and generate most of their profits.

For example, Porsche delivered more cars than at any point in its 91-year history in 2021, with the Porsche Macan SUV and larger Cayenne together accounting for well over half of its 300,000 sales, while the Porsche 911 sports car accounted for just 38,464.

It’s a similar story for the Lamborghini Urus SUV, which outsold the Lamborghini Huracán supercar in 2021 at a rate of around two to one.

The DBX made up half of all Aston Martin global sales in the same period, its first full year on sale.

“What we have to understand as McLaren is ‘how can we find a product that is in line with our DNA?’. We shouldn’t do a classic SUV,” Leiters added.

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